With their high-altitude atmosphere, the ski resorts of the Pyrenees are proving ever more popular with skiers, boarders and riders.
From east to west, Ax-3 Domaines to Cauterets
From east to west in the Pyrenees, from Ax-3 Domaines
, with Peyragudes
along the way, the pistes are surrounded by countryside with stunning panoramic views
very popular with skiers. In each resort there are dozens of them, running down from ridges bright with snow and winding through ancient forests. Some gentle, some challenging and others carving their way down the mountainside, all have been carefully designed to offer a variety of vertical drops and turns to enable skiers of all abilities to go that extra mile.
The minimum number of pistes at a ski resort in Midi-Pyrénées is around 15. The average is closer to 30. Some resorts such as Saint Lary Soulan and Peyragudes offer as many as around 50 pistes, without detracting from their intimate, small-scale atmosphere.
The biggest and the highest
Le Grand Tourmalet sets the record
, with 70 pistes totalling around 100 kilometres. Lying just below the Pic du Midi
(2,877 m altitude), a Great Tourist Site in Midi-Pyrénées
, this is the largest ski area in the French Pyrenees.
And Piau-Engaly is the highest in the Pyrenees, with skiers regularly flirting with the dizzy heights of 2,600 metres altitude. It is also home to the longest blue piste in the Pyrenees, which is 7 km long.
As for the resort of Gavarnie, this is certainly the only ski resort in Europe to feature amazing runs in an area of untouched countryside listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. We should also mention Luchon Superbagnères, in a stunning natural balcony location with a 360-degree view, just 8 minutes by gondola lift from the smart centre of Luchon, a Great Tourist Site in Midi-Pyrénées.
The Pyrenean way
Every ski resort has its own character, innovations and strong points
, the latter including high-tech installations
in most resorts.
Everywhere, a network of ski lifts (ski tows, chairlifts and gondola lifts) whisks skiers up to the top of the slopes, designed specifically to be as fast and efficient as possible. There are special beginners' and children's areas that enable newbies to feel safe on the piste, and an army of snowmakers stands ready to make up for the vagaries of the weather.
But also, everywhere a sense of hospitality is part of the Pyrenean way, the icing on the cake in ski resorts where genuine conviviality goes hand in hand with all the fun of snowsports.